Charlie Neibergall/ AP
Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.During a barbecue campaign event on Sunday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told New Hampshire voters that if he makes it to the White House, he will be “slitting throats on day one” in order to root out the so-called “deep state” lurking in the federal government.
“We’re going to have all of these deep state people, you know, we are going to start slitting throats on day one,” DeSantis said during a three-day trip to the Granite State. The event comes as the DeSantis campaign attempts a high-profile reset amid disappointing poll numbers and a major staff reduction.
The promise to the slit throats of people who essentially don’t exist—that is, unless you’re a conspiracy-addled Republican—aligns with the strategy the DeSantis campaign recently outlined in a confidential memo, which reportedly includes more attacks on the “deep state,” to convince donors that the Florida governor can still win this game. Now will his latest comments do the trick? Or is this simply more evidence of the governor’s infamous lack of social skills?
Whatever the case, it’s safe to say that these remarks fall in line with DeSantis’ authoritarian approach to governing, using the state to punish his perceived enemies, from Disney to whatever new item he’s declared as “woke.” As Harvard professor Steven Levitsky told my colleague Pema Levy, “That’s authoritarianism at its core. That’s what authoritarians do.”